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PLoS Curr. 2013 Mar 27;5. pii: ecurrents.dis.39b14d88c93fe04ef1a2ce180b24f8d1. doi: 10.1371/currents.dis.39b14d88c93fe04ef1a2ce180b24f8d1.

Spinal injuries in the 2012 twin earthquakes, northwest iran.

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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.


On 11 August 2012, twin earthquakes measured 6.3 and 6.4 on the Richter scale hit three towns (Ahar, Varzaqan, and Heris) in East Azerbaijan Province, Iran resulting in tragic loss of three hundred lives and leaving thousands of injured. The aim of the present study was to report the spinal injuries during recent earthquake in northwest Iran, its consequences and management. Of the 923 hospitalized patients, 26 (2.8%) had neurosurgical complications. The imaging and clinical data of the patients were retrospectively studied regarding the anatomical location of the injury, the severity of spinal injury and associated neurological deficit. To further analyze the findings, Magerl (AO) and Frankel's classifications were used. The injuries without any fracture were considered as minor spinal injuries. The mean age of the patients was 44.54±22.52 (range: 5-88) years. We detected a total of 38 vertebral injuries including 24 major (63.15%) and 14 minor injuries (36.85%). The most common injuries were observed in the lumbar spine (19 injuries, 50%). The 24 major injuries chiefly included Magerl type A (14 injuries, 58.3%). According to the Frankel's classification, majority of the patients (88.46%) had no neurological deficit. In this study, three patients had nerve injuries. In conclusion, the number and proportion of spinal fractures patients in the recent twin earthquakes, northwest Iran was limited and caused less nerve injuries compared to the previous similar disasters. This might be due to the milder earthquake consequences since the incident happened in the middle of the day when men were working their fields. Potential complications in patients traumatized in earthquake incidents should be monitored for and early assessment of the neurological function is required to prioritize care for the victims.

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